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Ask a Sexual Harassment Lawyer: How Is Sexual Harassment Defined in Legal Terms?

Numerous people experience sexual harassment in the workplace daily. However, the legal definition of the term “sexual harassment” is often up for debate. You should contact a sexual harassment lawyer if you feel you’ve been harassed in the workplace. The lawyer can analyze your case and tell you whether or not your experience fits in with the legal definition of sexual harassment.

Ask a Sexual Harassment Lawyer: What Does Sexual Harassment Mean Legally?

The legal definition of sexual harassment is straightforward. Another person must create a “hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment” through unwelcome “behavior of a sexual nature.” This can include behavior that involves someone:

  • Touching you sexually
  • Making sexual comments
  • Making lewd jokes
  • Sending/showing you inappropriate pictures or videos

Extorting sexual favors is another form of sexual harassment you may experience. This is when a manager/supervisor/employer asks you to perform sexual acts to earn a promotion or raise.

Who Must Consider the Behavior Sexual Harassment?

If you feel you’ve been sexually harassed, then that’s all that matters. You’ve been made feel uncomfortable or intimidated by another person’s sexual behavior. It doesn’t matter if the person harassing you doesn’t feel like what they’ve done counts as harassment. It’s your feelings that are taken into account when you file a claim. After all, you’re the one experiencing the emotional distress because of it.

How Are Sexual Harassment Cases Proven?

Sexual harassment cases are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Your claim must be investigated thoroughly. Kansas City workplace sexual harassment attorneys will work tirelessly to ensure the investigation comes up in your favor if you believe you’ve been sexually harassed. Supply your attorney with evidence to back up your claim if you can.

What Kind of Evidence Will Help in a Sexual Harassment Case?

1. Proof That You Reported This Claim to Human Resources or Your Employer

You must report sexual harassment to human resources and your employer before you take legal action. If you’ve reported the behavior, then your company will have a record of it. This record can be used to prove that you’ve brought up this concern at work, but nothing was done. If any other employees made a report about the same person, then their complaints can also be used as evidence against the party who sexually harassed you.

2. Witnesses

If any of your co-workers saw the person who sexually harassed you in the act, then you can call upon them to act as witnesses. They can give a witness statement backing up your claims.

3. Footage

Are there security cameras in your workplace? Check whether cameras are pointing at an area where you were physically harassed. The footage should show the harasser touching, and it should show you responding with obvious discomfort. If the footage shows they didn’t stop, or if further footage shows them repeating the action at a later date, then this can work as evidence in your favor.

4. Digital Communications

Has someone in your workplace been sending you flirty or sexual text messages and emails? Screenshot these, and print out copies of them, too. it’s important that you also screenshot any instances where you’ve asked the person who is harassing you to stop. If they didn’t stop after you asked them to, then it’s indisputable evidence to help you back up your claim.

Please be aware that if you flirted or sent lewd/sexual content in response, then this can harm your case. A judge or jury may rule that you were “inviting” the behavior by positively engaging in discussions/communications of a sexual nature. A judge or jury may still rule in your favor if you at first engaged in the behavior, but you later asked the other party to stop. If they didn’t stop, then you may still have a case and can make a claim.

5. Recorded Phone Calls and Conversations

Missouri is a one-party consent state. Therefore, you can legally record conversations as long as one party involved (you) consents. If you’re trying to build a sexual harassment case, then begin recording phone calls and conversations that you believe will contain verbal harassment. Having these recordings is further indisputable evidence that the person is harassing you.

Ensure you don’t respond positively to them during the call or conversation. If you seem to be engaging and inviting further comments or jokes, then you may harm your case.

6. Records From a Previous Company

If the person who is harassing you has been fired from previous positions due to sexual harassment complaints, then this can also work as evidence in your case. It proves that the person in question has engaged in this type of behavior in the past, so you’re likely telling the truth about them harassing you in the present.

If you feel you’re being sexually harassed, then ask the person doing it to stop immediately. If they don’t stop, then you can report them to your employer or human resources. If the behavior continues and nobody steps in to stop it, then you can contact a sexual harassment attorney to help you build a case.


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